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Colder Autumn air, my ankle starts to click, I think of Warwick School, the abuse, Mr Eve and the cover up

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 11 September 2018

In the Greek summer heat my ankle causes me no problems. But my return to the colder British autumn nights sees it start to hurt, especially after a long drive, I stretch and it clicks audibly. The pain is minor but nagging.  The final smash up was playing for London Irish (amateurs), it ended my undistinguished rugby career. Twelve years before that I had hurt it badly at Oxford playing basketball. But the initial weakness was caused by that incident in the freezing outdoor pool at Warwick School aged 8 or 9. It was bullying by other boys and the physical scar is still with me. And so I think of my old school, of the master who threw my head against the wall twice, Mr Geoffrey Eve, and of the cover up that continues to this day. I had another nightmare about it all last night.

You may remember that I confronted the then headmaster, Gus Lock, in a meeting he had arranged to discuss the issue of bullying and Geoffrey Eve eighteen months ago. At Locke’s suggestion, I went to the Police who were already investigating an allegation of sexual abuse by another master at Warwick from the same era. But that was a dead end. Unless I can find a boy who suffered severe enough abuse for there to be a medical record and who will come forward, the Police can do nothing.

There is such a boy. The act that saw Eve’s reign of terror finally come to a close saw a boy suffering hearing impairment. Maybe Warwick could trace him but that means it going public which it has refused to do. It does not want to discuss its shameful past.

My request to Lock was that Warwick should acknowledge its failings with a detailed article in the Old Warwickian and allow OWs to submit evidence to an independent enquiry as which those accused, notably Eve, should have the right to defend themselves. Lock did nothing on this matter and has gone on to a bigger and more prestigious school so he does not care and the Warwick abuse issues seems to have been forgotten.

Meanwhile my articles continue to prompt other OW’s to get in touch and I have detailed a number of the abuses they witnessed and suffered on these pages. One lad, S, said he would happily testify against Eve.  He remembers sitting in 3A with the other 10 year olds as Eve dragged me outside. They could hear him shout at me and throw my head against the wall.  They were as terrified as I was. S says he would come forward.  Of course the other staff at Warwick Junior knew what Eve got up to and there were some very kind and decent women there ( Mrs Fawcett, Birt and Hobday spring to mind) who are all, I think, still alive. But has Warwick asked them about this? Of course not.

The scandal is not just that Geoff Eve was a sadistic old bastard who, physically, not sexually, abused boys over many years. The scandal is that Warwick School covered it up. Eve first abused in the mid seventies and was given extensive leave of absence to sort himself out, or to allow any parental fuss to die down. He returned to teaching just in time to be my teacher in 3A, my final year at Warwick Junior.

I did not dare tell my father, who was a Governor, what Eve had done. I guess it implied that I had somehow been a bad boy and been punished for it. That is how the abusers got away with so much. The Mrs asked me this morning, as I told her about my ankle and what I was thinking, though not about the nightmare, what did I do to merit Eve’s attention. I think the first time I dropped a pencil on the floor. I cannot remember my offence but it was that trivial. Eve just flew into a rage, picked up my desk, turned it upside down littering its contents on the floor and escorted me out of the room. Was he holding me during this escort? I can’t remember. Maybe.

Eve continued his reign of terror for another couple of years before the incident with the hearing loss. The father kicked up a fuss.  Warwick should have called in the fuzz. Instead Eve took early retirement on a full pension and was invited back as a guest of honour to school concerts and OW events for many years afterwards, until I objected in 2012.

My father says he vaguely remembers the Governors discussing Eve’s crimes and departure but cannot remember the detail. Surely someone can? Why on earth did Warwick cover up and protect this monster?

Former HM Lock says that a school, which keeps on unearthing documents and grainy photos relating to the Warwick School House Rugby team of 1912 or the CCF of 1932, has lost the records of Eve from the 1970s and 1980s. The whole damn lot. How jolly convenient.

Lock insisted that Warwick has changed so virtue signalled par excellence by inviting the celebrated flower arranger and Warwick’s most famous gay old boy, Simon Lycett, to talk at speech day.  Sure: that is a sign that Warwick has changed massively for the better today and I welcome it greatly and admire Simon for his forgiveness of a place that must have been jolly brutal for him as a boy.

But that is not enough. For Warwick to really change it must acknowledge its awful past. The acts and the cover up – the failure to address what wen t on today is, in my mind, part of that cover up. Geoffrey Eve is now 93. I am sure I am not the only man out there who now and again has nightmares about Warwick, soon it will be too late to deal with this as it should be dealt with.

I will endeavour once more to contact the new HM as well as the chairman of the Board of Governors. I hope that at least one former Head master might see this and push the school to act. I am happy to meet both the current HM and the Chair of Governors at any time, but this time I want action.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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